(Destiny. 1900. John William Waterhouse.)
I tell you that I see her stillAt the dark entrance of the hall.One gas lamp burning near her shoulderShone also from her other sideWhere hung the long inaccurate glassWhose pictures were as troubled water.An immense shadow had its handBetween us on the floor, and seemedTo hump the knuckles nervously,A giant crab readying to walk,Or a blanket moving in its sleep.
You will remember, with a smileInstructed by movies to reminisce,How strict her corsets must have been,How the huge arrangements of her hairWould certainly betray the leastImpassionate displacement there.It was no rig for dallying,And maybe only marriage couldDerange that queenly scaffolding—As when a great ship, coming home,Coasts in the harbor, dropping sailAnd loosing all the tackle that had lacedHer in the long lanes ....I knowWe need not draw this figure out.But all that whalebone came from whales.And all the whales lived in the sea,In calm beneath the troubled glass,Until the needle drew their blood.
I see her standing in the hall,Where the mirror’s lashed to blood and foam,And the black flukes of agonyBeat at the air till the light blows out.